Because youre mine, p.1
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       Because You're Mine, p.1

           Colleen Coble
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Because You're Mine


  Acclaim for Colleen Coble

  “The tension, both suspenseful and romantic, is gripping, reflecting Coble’s prowess with the genre.”

  —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW FOR TWILIGHT AT BLUEBERRY BARRENS

  “Incredible storytelling and intricately drawn characters. You won’t want to miss Twilight at Blueberry Barrens!”

  —BRENDA NOVAK, NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

  “Coble has a gift for making a setting come to life. After reading Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, I feel like I’ve lived in Maine all my life. This plot kept me guessing until the end, and her characters seem like my friends. I don’t want to let them go!

  —TERRI BLACKSTOCK, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF IF I RUN

  “I’m a long-time fan of Colleen Coble, and Twilight at Blueberry Barrens is the perfect example of why. Coble delivers riveting suspense, delicious romance, and carefully crafted characters, all with the deft hand of a veteran writer. If you love romantic suspense, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed!”

  —DENISE HUNTER, AUTHOR OF THE GOODBYE BRIDE

  “Colleen Coble, the queen of Christian romantic mysteries, is back with her best book yet. Filled with familiar characters, plot twists, and a confusion of antagonists, I couldn’t keep the pages of this novel set in Maine turning fast enough. I reconnected with characters I love while taking a journey filled with murder, suspense, and the prospect of love. This truly is her best book to date, and perfect for readers who adore a page-turner laced with romance.”

  —CARA PUTMAN, AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF SHADOWED BY GRACE AND WHERE TREETOPS GLISTEN ON TWILIGHT AT BLUEBERRY BARRENS

  “Gripping! Colleen Coble has again written a page-turning romantic suspense with Twilight at Blueberry Barrens! Not only did she keep me up nights racing through the pages to see what would happen next, I genuinely cared for her characters. Colleen sets the bar high for romantic suspense!”

  —CARRIE STUART PARKS, AUTHOR OF A CRY FROM THE DUST AND WHEN DEATH DRAWS NEAR

  “Colleen Coble thrills readers again with her newest novel, an addictive suspense trenched in family, betrayal, and . . . murder.”

  —DIANN MILLS, AUTHOR OF DEADLY ENCOUNTER ON TWILIGHT AT BLUEBERRY BARRENS

  “Coble’s latest, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, is one of her best yet! With characters you want to know in person, a perfect setting, and a plot that had me holding my breath, laughing, and crying, this story will stay with the reader long after the book is closed. My highest recommendation.”

  —ROBIN CAROLL, BESTSELLING NOVELIST

  “Colleen’s Twilight at Blueberry Barrens is filled with a bevy of twists and surprises, a wonderful romance, and the warmth of family love. I couldn’t have asked for more. This author has always been a five-star novelist, but I think it’s time to up the ante with this book. It’s on my keeping shelf!”

  —HANNAH ALEXANDER, AUTHOR OF THE HALLOWED HALLS SERIES

  “Second chances, old flames, and startling new revelations combine to form a story filled with faith, trial, forgiveness, and redemption. Crack the cover and step in, but beware—Mermaid Point is harboring secrets that will keep you guessing.”

  —LISA WINGATE, NATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE SEA KEEPER’S DAUGHTERS, ON MERMAID MOON

  “I burned through The Inn at Ocean’s Edge in one sitting. An intricate plot by a master storyteller. Colleen Coble has done it again with this gripping opening to a new series. I can’t wait to spend more time at Sunset Cove.”

  —HEATHER BURCH, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ONE LAVENDER RIBBON

  “Coble doesn’t disappoint with her custom blend of suspense and romance.”

  —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY ON THE INN AT OCEAN’S EDGE

  “Veteran author Coble has penned another winner. Filled with mystery and romance that are unpredictable until the last page, this novel will grip readers long past when they should put their books down. Recommended to readers of contemporary mysteries.”

  —CBA RETAILERS + RESOURCES REVIEW OF THE INN AT OCEAN’S EDGE

  “Coble truly shines when she’s penning a mystery, and this tale will really keep the reader guessing . . . Mystery lovers will definitely want to put this book on their purchase list.”

  —ROMANTIC TIMES REVIEW OF THE INN AT OCEAN’S EDGE

  “Master storyteller Colleen Coble has done it again. The Inn at Ocean’s Edge is an intricately woven, well-crafted story of romance, suspense, family secrets, and a decades-old mystery. Needless to say, it had me hooked from page one. I simply couldn’t stop turning the pages. This one’s going on my keeper shelf.”

  —LYNETTE EASON, AWARD-WINNING, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE HIDDEN IDENTITY SERIES

  “Evocative and gripping, The Inn at Ocean’s Edge will keep you flipping pages long into the night.”

  —DANI PETTREY, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE ALASKAN COURAGE SERIES

  “Coble’s atmospheric and suspenseful series launch should appeal to fans of Tracie Peterson and other authors of Christian romantic suspense.”

  —LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW OF TIDEWATER INN

  “Romantically tense, but with just the right touch of danger, this cowboy love story is surprisingly clever—and pleasingly sweet.”

  —USATODAY.COM REVIEW OF BLUE MOON PROMISE

  “[An] outstanding, completely engaging tale that will have you on the edge of your seat . . . A must-have for all fans of romantic suspense!”

  —THEROMANCEREADERSCONNECTION.COM REVIEW OF ANATHEMA

  “Colleen Coble lays an intricate trail in Without a Trace and draws the reader on like a hound with a scent.”

  —ROMANTIC TIMES, 4½ STARS

  “Coble’s historical series just keeps getting better with each entry.”

  —LIBRARY JOURNAL STARRED REVIEW OF THE LIGHTKEEPER’S BALL

  “Don’t ever mistake [Coble’s] for the fluffy romances with a little bit of suspense. She writes solid suspense, and she ties it all together beautifully with a wonderful message.”

  —LIFEINREVIEWBLOG.COM REVIEW OF LONESTAR ANGEL

  “Colleen is a master storyteller.”

  —KAREN KINGSBURY, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF UNLOCKED AND LEARNING

  Also by Colleen Coble

  SUNSET COVE NOVELS

  The Inn at Ocean’s Edge

  Mermaid Moon

  Twilight at Blueberry Barrens

  HOPE BEACH NOVELS

  Tidewater Inn

  Rosemary Cottage

  Seagrass Pier

  All Is Bright: A Hope Beach

  Christmas Novella (e-book only)

  UNDER TEXAS STARS NOVELS

  Blue Moon Promise

  Safe in His Arms

  THE MERCY FALLS SERIES

  The Lightkeeper’s Daughter

  The Lightkeeper’s Bride

  The Lightkeeper’s Ball

  LONESTAR NOVELS

  Lonestar Sanctuary

  Lonestar Secrets

  Lonestar Homecoming

  Lonestar Angel

  All Is Calm: A Lonestar Christmas

  Novella (e-book only)

  THE ROCK HARBOR SERIES

  Without a Trace

  Beyond a Doubt

  Into the Deep

  Cry in the Night

  Silent Night: A Rock Harbor

  Christmas Novella (e-book only)

  Haven of Swans (Available May 2017)

  Beneath Copper Falls

  (Available July 2017)

  THE ALOHA REEF SERIES

  Distant Echoes

  Black Sands

  Dangerous Depths

  Midnight Sea

  Holy Night: An Aloha Reef

  Christmas Novella (e-book only)

  Alaska Twilight

  Fire Dancer


  Anathema

  Butterfly Palace

  JOURNEY OF THE HEART SERIES

  A Heart’s Disguise

  A Heart’s Obsession

  A Heart’s Danger

  A Heart’s Betrayal

  A Heart’s Promise

  A Heart’s Home

  NOVELLAS INCLUDED IN:

  Smitten

  Secretly Smitten

  Smitten Book Club

  NOVELLA COLLECTIONS

  Silent Night, Holy Night

  All Is Calm, All Is Bright

  OTHER NOVELLAS

  Bluebonnet Bride

  Copyright © 2017 by Colleen Coble

  All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.

  Thomas Nelson titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail SpecialMarkets@ThomasNelson.com.

  Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  Publisher’s Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.

  Epub Edition December 2016 ISBN 9780718083908

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  CIP data is available upon request.

  Printed in the United States of America

  17 18 19 20 21 RRD 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  For my dear friend in heaven, Diann Hunt.

  Because You’re Mine was her favorite of all the

  books I’ve written. I miss you every day, Di!

  Contents

  One

  Two

  Three

  Four

  Five

  Six

  Seven

  Eight

  Nine

  Ten

  Eleven

  Twelve

  Thirteen

  Fourteen

  Fifteen

  Sixteen

  Seventeen

  Eighteen

  Nineteen

  Twenty

  Twenty-One

  Twenty-Two

  Twenty-Three

  Twenty-Four

  Twenty-Five

  Twenty-Six

  Twenty-Seven

  Twenty-Eight

  Twenty-Nine

  Thirty

  Thirty-One

  Thirty-Two

  Thirty-Three

  Thirty-Four

  Discussion Questions

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  One

  She’d never get through this final set.

  Flinging her dark red hair away from her fiddle, Alanna Connolly swallowed down the soreness in her throat and danced across the polished wooden floor of the stage. She couldn’t fail—not here at the great Hibernian Hall where Charleston had turned out in force for Ceol, the four-woman Celtic band she’d founded. Her fingers flew across the fingerboard, and her other hand manipulated the bow across the strings of her instrument.

  Almost there. If her voice held out for one more song, she could rest. She turned slightly so she could see her husband, Liam, as he pounded out the beat on his bodhran. He twirled the double-headed tippers in his hand and nodded at her, the special sign between them. He was praying for her.

  When the Irish jig ended, the applause rose in a crescendo. Alanna bowed, then stepped to the mic. Her throat thickened, and she knew not a note would clear her mouth with a true, pure sound. The pleading glance she sent Ciara caused the alto singer to step to Alanna’s aid. Fiona and Ena joined them at the mic, and Ciara took the lead on the final song.

  The audience fell silent as the melancholy Irish ballad “The Last Rose of Summer” wafted over the sold-out house. Alanna mouthed the words and prayed no one would miss her voice in the mix. Her face hurt from smiling, and she wanted to rush from the stage to the sanctuary of the dressing room. Her blood pounded with the thump of Liam’s blows on the big bass drum behind her. Run, run, the drum said, but Alanna held her ground.

  Just a few moments more.

  The song ended and the four of them bowed, then Liam joined them. They bowed together one last time as the crowd roared its approval. Liam glanced at her, and she gave a slight shake of her head. There would be no encore tonight.

  After their final bow, he led her out of the hot lights to the cool relief of backstage. “I shouldn’t have let you sing tonight.” Once they reached the seclusion of the curtains, he pulled her into his arms.

  Fiddle at her side, she leaned into him and inhaled his beloved aroma, a mixture of Irish Tweed cologne and the pungent odor of the bodhran’s goatskin. Weariness settled over her like a shroud. “I’ll be needing tea.”

  He tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow. “You need some shut-eye.”

  She smiled at him. “That I do.”

  Jesse Hawthorne leaned against the doorjamb of the dressing room and watched his friend embrace his wife. Alanna should have been his—and would have been if not for Liam. He knew the precise moment when Alanna saw him, because she stiffened and pulled out of Liam’s arms. Nothing would convince him she didn’t still harbor some feelings for him. He approached the couple.

  “Jesse, you made it!” Liam high-fived his friend and clapped him on the shoulder. “Weren’t we on fire?”

  “It was terrific.” Jesse’s gaze lingered on Fiona a moment. She’d given him a come-hither glance a time or two, but whenever Alanna was around, he found it hard to concentrate on another woman.

  “Thanks.” Alanna tucked a lock of burnished hair behind her ear.

  Jesse stood close enough to catch a whiff of her sweet perfume. What would she do if he leaned in for a better sniff? “You should see my new Mustang. That convertible can fly! I’ll take you on a ride sometime. Can’t wait to get your husband out in it tonight.”

  She averted her glance and smiled. He took that to mean she’d like to go, and he let himself imagine a warm, sunny day with her long hair flying in the wind.

  A suffocating blanket of depression settled over him. Liam had it all—beautiful wife, exciting career, and rich parents. Jesse’s own life was going nowhere. If only he still had Alanna by his side. She had been his good-luck charm. When she was on his arm, he knew what it was like to ride the wave to better things.

  Now he was nothing, and that was all he’d ever be.

  There was something different about Jesse tonight, but Alanna couldn’t put her finger on it. She’d dated him for a time, but his eyes wandered to other women. She had him to thank for introducing her to Liam, though.

  The two men were very similar in appearance with their brown hair and eyes—both about six feet tall and broad in the shoulder. Their coloring was so close people sometimes mistook them for brothers. Liam often teased her that she’d never know the difference between them in a dark room, but she knew better. Liam was gentle and tender, while Jesse was someone who grabbed what he wanted and pushed his way to the front of the line as if it were his due. Tonight they looked even more alike in their identical black Ceol T-shirts. Liam had given one to Jesse last week.

  Jesse gave Alanna a crooked smile but spoke to Liam. “I don’t know how you play that bodhran.”

  She managed to smile at his light tone, but she wanted to run to the seclusion of the dressing room. Dealing with Jesse was one more pressure she didn’t need tonight. Liam never seemed to notice the stares Jesse sent her way. Stares t
hat made her uncomfortable.

  “You could play it, too, if you just put in a little effort,” Liam said. “I dare you to give it a try.”

  Jesse never took his gaze from Alanna. “I just might.”

  The wood-frame drum was surprisingly difficult to master, and no one played it like Liam. He was an artist of the top-end style and could vary the pitch of the thumps.

  They stepped into the dressing room, and Alanna collapsed onto a silk-covered chair that had seen better days. The rest of the group filed in behind them and pushed through to the connecting room they shared—all except for Ciara. She was tuned to Alanna as if they were twins, though they couldn’t be more different, both in looks and background. Ciara wore her black, kinky hair in cornrows that accentuated her strong cheekbones, while Alanna’s red locks fell in a curtain of curls past her waist. Ciara never needed makeup on her beautiful dark skin, and Alanna was forever trying to cover the red splotches her fair skin developed when exposed to the smallest amount of sun.

  “Sure, but I’m knackered. I’ll be sleeping till noon.” Ciara pointed her long finger at Alanna. “The doctor told you not to sing tonight.”

  “I couldn’t disappoint all our fans,” Alanna said.

  “It’s better than ruining your voice and never singing again.” Ciara waved her beringed hand. “You’re already picking up an American accent.”

  Liam faced the open door, and a frown darkened his face. Alanna glanced around and saw their new manager, Barry Kavanagh, standing in the doorway. The blokes seemed determined to square off like two bulls. Their first manager had let Liam run things as he pleased, but Barry was more hands-on. His background as an attorney was probably to blame.

  The man’s easy smile came as he stepped into the room. “I noticed your throat is troubling you, Alanna. I took the liberty of calling my doctor to come examine you. We can’t be too careful with our star.” The Southern accent in his words was almost a caress.

  Alanna glimpsed a man in a black suit behind Barry. She nodded. “I’d be glad to have him look at it.”

 
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